Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"It is indifference which is the cause of most of our unhappiness. Indifference to religion, to the happiness of others, and to the precious gift of freedom, and the wide liberty that is the inheritance of all in a free land. Are we our "Brother's Keeper"? We certainly are! If we had no regard for others' feelings or fortune, we would grow cold and indifferent to life itself. Bound up with selfishness, we could not hope for the success that could easily be ours." - George Matthew Adams

"Of human life the time is a point, and the substance is in a flux, and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject to putrefaction, and the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame a thing devoid of judgment. And, to say all in a word, everything which belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream and a vapor, and life is a warfare and a stranger’s sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"That discipline which corrects the eagerness of worldly passions, which fortifies the heart with virtuous principles, which enlightens the mind with useful knowledge, and furnishes to it matter of enjoyment from within itself, is of more consequence to real felicity than all the provisions which we can make of the goods of fortune." - Hugh Blair

"The slave has but one master; the ambitious man has as many as there are people useful to his fortune." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness — its opposite — never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"Envy is a week that grows in all soils and climates, and is no less luxuriant in the country than in the court; is not confined to any rank of men or extent of fortune, but rages in the breasts of all degrees." - Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, aka Lord Clarendon

"No one is ever satisfied with his fortune or dissatisfied with his understanding." - Antoinette Du Ligier de la Garde Deshoulières

"Envy comes from focusing on the few moments of good fortune in the life of another person, while ignoring his years of misfortune." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"The gift of gaiety may itself be the greatest good fortune, and the most serious step toward maturity." - Irwin Edman

"There are one hundred men seeking security to one able man who is willing to risk his fortune." - J. Paul Getty, fully Jean Paul Getty

"In general, one cannot judge the true extent of a person’s fortune by outward appearances. The little a righteous man has may be far better than the noisy abundance in which many lawless delight. The modest possessions of a righteous man make him much happier than the great fortunes of many evildoers about which so much ado is made in the world." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"Where is the reward of virtue? and what recompense has nature provided for such important sacrifices as those of life and fortune, which we must often make to it? O sons of earth! Are ye ignorant of the value of this celestial mistress? And do ye meanly inquire for her portion, when ye observe her genuine beauty?" - David Hume

"If misery be the effect of virtue, it; ought to be reverenced; if of ill-fortune, to be pitied; and of vice, not to be insulted, because it is perhaps itself a punishment adequate to the crime by which it was produced." -

"Those who have arrived at any very eminent degree of excellence in the practice of an art or profession have commonly been actuated by a species of enthusiasm in their pursuit of it. They have kept one object in view amidst all the vicissitudes of time and fortune." - John Knox

"Envy comes from foolishness and a lack of understanding. When you are envious of someone, you do not gain anything and o not cause a loss to the person you envy. The only person who loses out is you. There are some people whose foolishness is so strong that whenever they see someone else they know have some good fortune, they feel pain and suffering They are so pained by what others have they derive no pleasure from what they themselves possess." - Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal

"Who hath not known ill-fortune, never knew himself, or his own virtue." - David Mallet, also David Malloch

"What keeps persons down in the world, besides lack of capacity, is not a philosophical contempt of riches or honors, but thoughtlessness and improvidence, a love of sluggish torpor, and of present gratification. It is not from preferring virtue to wealth - the goods of the mind to those of fortune - that they take no thought for the morrow; but from want of forethought and stern self-command. The restless, ambitious man too often directs these qualities to an unworthy object; the contented man is generally deficient in the qualities themselves. The one is a stream that flows too often in a wrong channel, and needs to have its course altered, the other is a stagnant pool." -

"Men in excess of happiness or misery are equally inclined to severity. Witness conquerors and monks! It is mediocrity alone, and a mixture of prosperous and adverse fortune that inspire us with lenity and pity." - Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

"Every man's fortune is moulded by his character." - Cornelius Nepos

"A man's own character shapes his fortune." - Cornelius Nepos

"If fortune smiles, beware of being exalted; if fortune thunders, beware of being overwhelmed." - Periander, aka Periander The Great NULL

"A man's own character is the arbiter of his fortune." - Publius Syrus

"Depend not on fortune, but on conduct." - Publius Syrus

"The guilty fear the law, the guiltless Fortune." - Publius Syrus

"Life is what our character makes it. We fashion it, as a snail does its shell. A man can say: "I never made a fortune because it is not in my character to be rich."" - Jules Renard, aka Pierre-Jules Renard

"Every man is the architect of his own future (fortune)." - Sallust, full name Carus Valerius Sailustius Crispus NULL

"Whatever you have received more than others - in health, in talents, in ability, in success, in a pleasant childhood, in harmonious conditions of home life - all this you must not take to yourself as a matter of course. In gratitude for your good fortune, you must render in return some sacrifice of your own life for another life." - Albert Schweitzer

"Behold the wretched and dismal slavery of him who is in thrall to pleasures and pains, those utterly capricious and tyrannical master. We, however, must escape to freedom. But this is only possible if we are indifferent to Fortune. Then we shall attain that one overriding blessing - the serenity and exhaltation of a firmly anchored mind. For when error is banished, we shall have the great and satisfying joy that comes from the discovery of truth, plus a kind of disposition and cheerfulness of mind. The source of our pleasure in these things will not derive from their being good, but that they emerge from a good that is one’s own." -

"Humanity is fortune, because no man is unhappy except by his own fault." -

"It was the saying of a great man that if we could trace our descents, we should find all slaves to come from princes, and all princes from slaves; and fortune has turned all things topsy-turvy in a long series of revolutions; beside, for a man to spend his life in pursuit of a title, that serves only when he dies to furnish out an epitaph, is below a wise man’s business." -

"The impotence of man to govern or restrain the affects I call bondage, for a man who is under their control is not his own master, but is mastered by fortune, in whose power he is, so that he is often forced to follow the worse, although he sees the better before him." -

"Give us grace and strength to forbear and to preserve. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends and soften to us our enemies. Give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another." - Robert Louis Stevenson, fully Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

"Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace like the ticking of a clock during a thunderstorm." - Robert Louis Stevenson, fully Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

"To be rich in admiration and free from envy; to rejoice greatly in the good of others; to love with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession in absence; these are the gifts of fortune which money cannot buy and without which money can buy nothing. He who has such a treasury of riches, being happy and valiant himself, in his own nature, will enjoy the universe as if it were his own estate; and help the man to whom he lends a hand to enjoy it with him." - Robert Louis Stevenson, fully Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

"True valor lies in the mind, the never-yielding purpose, nor owns the blind award of giddy fortune." - Edward Thomson

"In democratic countries, however opulent a man is supposed to be, he is almost always discontented with his fortune because he finds that he is less rich than his father was, and he fears that his sons will be less rich than himself. Most rich men in democracies are therefore constantly haunted by the desire of obtaining wealth, and they naturally turn their attention to trade and manufactures, which appear to offer the readiest and most efficient means of success. In this respect they share the instincts of the poor without feeling the same necessities; say, rather, they feel the most imperious of all necessities, that of not sinking in the world." -

"Fortune is an exacting mistress." -

"Fortune is a great deceiver. She sells very dear the things which she seems to give us." - Vincent Voiture

"One is never more on trial than in the moment of excessive good fortune." - Lew Wallace

"There seem to be some persons, the favorites of fortune and darlings of nature, who are born cheerful. “A star danced” at their birth. It is no superficial visibility, but a bountiful and beneficent soul that sparkles in their eyes and smiles on their lips. Their inborn geniality amounts to genius, the rare and difficult genius which creates sweet and wholesome character, and radiates cheer." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Any time we become discouraged from unfortunate events in our lives, we are reacting prematurely. Our lowest moments can lead to our greatest fortune." - Yosef Avraham Wolf

"Wisdom to gold prefer; for 'tis much less to make our fortune than our happiness." -

"Envy is irrational. When you are burning with envy, the person you are envious of is not affected. If he has a knowledge, he remains knowledgeable. If he has wealth, he remains wealthy. The envious person just destroys himself. The more he complains about someone’s good fortune, the more he harms himself." -

"This world is run with far too tight a rein for luck to interfere. Fortune sells her wares; she never gives them. In some form or another, we pay for her favors; or we go away empty." - Amelia Barr, fully Amelia Edith Barr Huddleston

"Is there no constancy in earthy things? No happiness in us, but what must alter? No life, without the heavy load of fortune? What miseries we are, and to ourselves? Ev’n then when full content seems to sit by us, what daily sores and sorrows." - Beaumont and Fletcher, Francis Beaumont (c.1585-1614) and John Fletcher

"Nothing is a misery, unless our weakness apprehend it so; we cannot be more faithful to ourselves, in anything that’s manly, than to make ill-fortune as contemptible to us as it makes us to others." - Beaumont and Fletcher, Francis Beaumont (c.1585-1614) and John Fletcher